Multi-Stakeholder Dialogues

Dialogue Two: Stigmatization and Discrimination: Inequality in Employment

On 8 October 2014 the International Movement ATD Fourth World carried out its second virtual dialogue between UN stakeholders and people living in poverty, in partnership with UNICEF’s Addressing Inequalities Networked Alliance. The focus of the dialogue was Stigmatization and Discrimination: Inequality in Employment.

The group with direct experiences with poverty was part of a political action group assembled ATD Fourth World in Bolivia which is composed of workers who live in poverty. The group has been holding regular peoples’ universities including communities from the area outside of La Paz called El Alto. Its members have also previously spoken at UN events and were prepared to speak about the Post-2015 Agenda.

The dialogue was structured in the spirit of Merging of Knowledge, a facilitation technique designed to create the conditions for people from different backgrounds to produce new knowledge together. In light of these aims, all participants attempted to build a series of policy proposals to address the violent effects of stigmatization and discrimination.

Through the dialogue, delegates from UNICEF, the ILO, the Executive Office of the Secretary General, and the Bolivian Ministry of Foreign Affairs were able to converge on the following proposals:

  • Create spaces of true participation and lack of judgment for a free flow of ideas and construction of new knowledge between people living in poverty and policy makers
  • Implement public education policies designed to mitigate stigmatization and discrimination of people living in poverty and workers in the informal sector.
  • Develop policies to protect informal workers
  • Strengthen labor protection systems. One specific example suggested was empowering labor inspectors.
  • Ensure that workers, including those in the informal sector are aware of their rights as workers
  • Create accountability structures for workers to file complaints against abusive employers
  • Ensure that all workers are covered under social protection systems that guarantee them access to health and education. Particularly by ensuring that workers have legal identity

It was clear that dignity and being treated as “human beings” are of upmost importance to workers living in poverty. It seems that these interpersonal aspects of the labor experience are actually were some of the gravest manifestations of discrimination and stigmatization take place.

Overall, participants all emphasized that the post-2015 agenda could effectively protect workers from these transgression through public awareness programs and strong labor protection systems. ATD Fourth World thanks its partners and all the participants in the dialogue and hopes that in this spirit more spaces of such collaboration will be created.

Dialogue One: Stigmatization and Discrimination: Inequality in Social Programs and Employment.

In partnership with UNICEF’s Addressing Inequalities Networked Alliance, the International Movement ATD Fourth World carried out an informal virtual dialogue between UN stakeholders and people living in poverty. The focus of the dialogue was Stigmatization and Discrimination: Inequality in Social Programs and Employment.

The group with direct experiences with poverty was part of a research team assembled at the University of Massachusetts in Boston. The group has been working very closely with the Center for Social Policy there on issues of local anti-poverty policy. Its members have also spoken previously at UN events and were prepared to speak about the Post-2015 Agenda.

The dialogue was structured in the spirit of Merging of Knowledge, a facilitation technique designed to create the conditions for people from different backgrounds to produce new knowledge together. In light of these aims, all participants attempted to build a series of policy proposals to address the violent effects of stigmatization and discrimination.

Through the dialogue, delegates from the Office of the President of the General Assembly, The Permanent Mission of the United States, The Permanent Mission of Denmark, and UNICEF were able to converge on the following proposals:

  • Spaces of true participation and lack of judgment allow for a free flow of ideas and construction of new knowledge—“tokenistic” participation must be eliminated
  • The visibility of poverty and discrimination needs to be increased—anti poverty policies should create the conditions for people living in poverty to “come out”
  • In order to have true participation, policy makers should commit to take action on ideas collectively expressed
  • When policies are stigmatizing, their effectiveness decreases and they can harm beneficiaries
  • Mainstreaming qualitative and subjective measurements is a first step towards identifying the impacts of discrimination and stigmatization
  • All policies should strive to build solidarity among all members of society

The question of universal versus targeted programs remained unconcluded. Some participants argued that universal programs decreased stigma and built solidarity while others argued that they were too costly and sometimes were still “unfair”.

Overall, the event was truly energizing with delegates gaining a new perspective on their work and exchanging in a comfortable environment. Despite their different backgrounds, the participants were able to come together on actionable language. ATD Fourth World thanks its partners and all the participants in the dialogue and hopes that in this spirit more such spaces of collaboration will be created.